Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Better Shape Up

The inner pressure of developing cells controls how their neighbours behave to shape the final tissue

02 January 2021

Better Shape Up

There’s a lot going on during development as cells multiply and specialise to build a whole organism containing many different tissues. Although researchers have studied development for thousands of years since the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle first observed how chicks grow inside eggs, we still know little about how all the cells of a developing embryo affect each other as they grow and jostle for space. These images are 3-D computer reconstructions of a developing fruit fly ovary (egg chamber), created from observations of real ovaries, with different types of cells highlighted in different colours. Using a technique known as atomic force microscopy, which carefully ‘pokes’ individual cells to measure the pressure inside them, researchers have discovered how neighbouring cells push against each other to help shape the final structure. Similar forces are likely to be at work in all living tissues and organs as they grow and organise.

Written by Kat Arney

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.